Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Crime & Beyond Book Club Reads Under My Skin by Lisa Unger

The Denver-based book club Crime & Beyond recently discussed the latest book by author Lisa Unger and Kerry Hammond is here to tell us what they thought.

This month, Crime & Beyond met to discuss Under My Skin by Lisa Unger, the award winning author of sixteen books. We have read four of the author’s previous novels in Crime & Beyond over the years and were excited to read this latest standalone.

Let me start by saying that we all agreed that Unger is a great writer. We reminisced about the fabulous twist at the end of In the Blood and the strange characters created in Crazy Love You. But not all books are created equal and not all will speak to each and every reader. Under My Skin did not speak to all of us.

Different genres of books are in style at any given time. At one point, vampires were all the craze. At another, you couldn’t browse the bookshelves without coming across a risqué novel like Fifty Shades of Grey. For the last few years, however, it’s been extremely hard to avoid the “domestic thriller.” Some of the books that fall under this genre have been well received and have even landed movie deals. Girl on a Train is still talked about and Gone Girl continues to have a love-hate relationship with fans.

I’ve read several articles that have claimed that the domestic thriller has come and gone, but from a reader’s standpoint, there is still no end in sight. It’s not the unreliable narrator that we disagree with, nor is it the trauma that has caused a memory loss—where the protagonist doubts herself and her judgment. Rather, it’s the pill popping, binge drinking, whiney females that seem to fill the pages of so many books still being published. These characters are never, in our experience, men. They are always females in a drug or alcohol induced haze that makes them doubt their own recollection to such an extent that their friends and family can’t possibly trust them.

Under My Skin is a similarly written domestic thriller, with the added twist of the narrator experiencing hypnagogia, a dreamlike state that happens between sleep and wakefulness. We didn’t hate the book, but we didn’t, on the whole, love it. In short, we are looking forward to the next trend, not because we’re a fan of trends, but because it will mean an end to the genre that has us all wanting to put down our glass of wine and pick up a police procedural.

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